Background: The effect of N-acetylcysteine (NAC) to prevent contrast nephropathy (CN) in patients with moderate to severe renal insufficiency undergoing coronary angiography or interventions is not clear.
Methods: This is a prospective, open-label, randomized, controlled trial. Ninety-one consecutive patients with a serum creatinine level of 1.69 to 4.52 mg/dL (149 to 400 micromol/L) undergoing coronary procedures were recruited and randomly assigned to administration of either oral NAC, 400 mg, thrice daily the day before and day of the contrast procedure (the NAC group) or no drug (the control group). Serum creatinine was measured before and 48 hours after contrast exposure. The primary end point of this study was the development of CN, defined as an increase in serum creatinine concentration of 0.5 mg/dL or greater (> or =44 micromol/L) or a reduction in estimated glomerular filtration rate (GFR) of 25% or greater of the baseline value 48 hours after the procedure.
Results: There were no significant differences between the 2 groups (46 patients, NAC group; 45 patients, control group) in baseline characteristics or mean volume of contrast agent administered. Six patients (13.3%) in the control group and 8 patients (17.4%) in the NAC group developed CN (P = 0.8). Serum creatinine levels increased from 2.27 +/- 0.54 to 2.45 +/- 0.65 mg/dL (201 +/- 48 to 217 +/- 57 micromol/L; P = 0.003) in the NAC group and 2.37 +/- 0.61 to 2.40 +/- 0.70 mg/dL (210 +/- 54 to 212 +/- 62 micromol/L; P = 0.6) in the control group. The increase in serum creatinine levels between the 2 groups had no difference (P = 0.7). Estimated GFR decreased from 30.3 +/- 8.4 to 28.1 +/- 8.4 mL/min (P = 0.01) in the NAC group and 28.4 +/- 8.6 to 27.5 +/- 8.8 mL/min (P = 0.3) in the control group. The decline in estimated GFR between the 2 groups had no difference (P = 0.7).
Conclusion: In the current study, oral NAC had no effect on the prevention of CN in patents with moderate to severe renal insufficiency undergoing coronary angiography or interventions. However, the sample size of our present study is small. Our findings highlight the need for a large-scale, randomized, controlled trial to determine the exact beneficial effect of NAC.